Several area churches are bringing the pages of the Bible to life with live Nativity and Bethlehem scenes that will be free to the public just in time for Christmas.
For the fourth year, Sharon Baptist Church, of Winfield, offers visitors its hayride through the life of Christ this Thursday through Sunday from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Columbia County Fairgrounds on Columbia Road.
"This is a play, and it goes all the way from the prediction that Jesus is coming ... through the birth, (and) through the death (and Resurrection)," said Jean Kelly, a spokeswoman for Sharon Baptist.
Kelly said about 75 church members pulled together to build sets and play parts in a total of 16 scenes from the Bible.
The hayride includes the nativity featuring actual livestock, the story of the woman at the well from the book of John, St. Peter's three denials of Christ and the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, she said. "It's far more than a nativity scene,'' she said. "It's the whole (life of Christ)."
The church has arranged for five to six wagons pulled by tractors that can accommodate between 15 and 20 guests at a time, she said. Free hot chocolate and a heated staging area will be provided to keep guests warm, and no one will be turned away to view the play so long as people are in line at 9:30, Kelly said.
"This is our gift to the community," she said.
From 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Marvin United Methodist Church will hold its drive-through Nativity in the church's parking lot at 4400 Wheeler Road.
Scenes include the angel speaking to the Virgin Mary. It concludes with a traditional manger scene.
"We have (luminarias) that direct cars slowly to drive through the different scenes of the Nativity and live animals, lighting, music and story boards (explaining each scene)," said Chuck Moon, Marvin's pastor.
Moon said the church chose Dec. 16 because it is the last day of school in Columbia County before the holidays and the children will be instrumental playing parts and helping behind the scenes.
At Martinez United Methodist Church, members are building a Bethlehem scene including the Nativity and town shops, said Sherry Norviel, head of the church's nurture education program.
Their Bethlehem village will run Saturday and Sunday from 6-8 p.m.
"We have people from our church in costumes acting as the shopkeepers and we have a live manger scene with a baby (Jesus), angels, wise men, Mary and Joseph."
Members also will portray Roman census takers who will tally visitors as they enter the city and scribes who will record names in Hebrew, she said.
"People are able to walk around and visit with (actors). We have an open fire, and people can have hot cider by the fire."
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